Home reading question stems

Ever wonder what to talk about after your child has read their twenty minutes of nightly reading to you? Well, here are some question stems that might help get those conversations started. These questions will help facilitate the type of discussions we have during class in our whole class and small group reading lessons. Enjoy, and keep reading!


  1. What type or genre is your book? How do you know? (Here are some of the genres we encounter in fourth grade.)

   Fiction - Realistic, Historical, Science, Fable, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Folk Tale

Nonfiction - Expository, Biography, Autobiography, Memoir, Recipe, How-to, Eyewitness Account





  1. Which characteristic best describes ______? Why? (Answer may or may not be in text.)
  2. Who are the main characters in the story? How do you know?
  3. How is a character best described in the story?
  4. How did the main character feel in the beginning of the book? What caused him/her to feel this way? Explain.
  5. Choose any two characters. Describe their relationship.
  6. How do you visualize the main character in your mind? What details does the author give you? What did you add?
  7. What is the significance of the character's decision to do the action in the story?
  8. How does the character change from the beginning of the story?
  9. How is the main character different from another character in the story?
  10. Compare and contrast two characters in the story. Create a Double Bubble Map.
  11. How would this experience help this character the next time he does the same thing again?
  12. People who ________ (story action) are most likely to have which of the following characteristics?
  13. Do you feel you understand the characters? Choose one and tell why.
  14. Did a character have to make a difficult decision? What were the results of the decision? Do you agree with what he/she decided? Why or why not? 


  1. What is the setting? How do you know the time and place? Give examples.
  2. Does the setting of the story change? If so, how does the change affect the plot?
  3. Compare the setting in the book to the TIME and PLACE where you live. Explain with examples. Discuss similarities and differences.
  4. Choose a scene and describe how you pictured it in your mind. How does the author help you?


  1. Where does the story take place? How do you know?
  2. Did the author help you visualize the place? How?
  3. Have you ever been to a place like this? If so, describe it.


  1. Did the story take place a long time ago/in the future/now? How do you know?
  2. Did the author help you visualize the time? Which words did the author use?


  1. What is the main idea of the selection?
  2. What are some questions you would like to have answered before you finish the book?
  3. What is the story mostly about? (Tell when, where and why in one sentence.)
  4. What is the significance of ____'s decision to ______?
  5. What is the purpose of the first paragraph?
  6. What is the significance of beginning the selection with ______ (Similes, tone, mood, onomatopoeia, metaphors, dialogue, etc.)?
  7. What is ironic about _____? Why?
  8. Describe an event in the book that was unexpected. What happened before and after the event?
  9. How would this experience help Joe the next time he buys a bicycle?
  10. Based on the selection, what will most likely happen next? Why do you think this?
  11. What do you consider to be the most important event in the book? Why?
  12.  What do you think will happen when the story ends? Why?

Conflict and Resolution

  1. Who has a problem? Is there one problem or more? Describe the problem(s).
  2. What was the earliest indication of trouble in this book? Explain.
  3. How is the problem solved? How do you know?
  4. Which type of conflict is in this selection (Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Himself, Man vs. Man)?
  5. What is the biggest problem or challenge the main character faced? How was it resolved? Explain.


  1. Based on the context of paragraph ___, what does XXX mean? (Vocabulary in context)
  2. What special words does the author use to help you hear/see the story?
  3. Tell me about any pictures the author left in your mind. What phrases helped you?
  4. What do you like about the way the author has written the selection? Why?
  5. What is the purpose of this text feature (Subheading, label, all capital letters, photo, diagram, etc.)?
  6. What effect is created by the author's repetition of the words XYZ? 


  1. What is the tone/mood of the selection? Explain how you know.
  2. How did you feel while reading this book? Why did you feel this way?
  3. What was the funniest/saddest/most exciting/strangest/etc. part? Describe it.

Point of View

  1. Who is telling the story? How can you tell? Explain.
  2. Which point of view is used (1st person narrative uses "I;" 3rd person tells the story, but is not IN the story; Omniscient; Limited omniscient, etc.)? How do you know?

Author's Purpose

  • INFORM: What did you learn that was new or complicated?
  • PERSUADE: What was the author trying to convince you about?
  • ENTERTAIN: What emotion did you feel when you read the text? How did the author create the emotion?
  • DESCRIBE: What did the author help you visualize: person, place or thing? 


  1. Why do you think the author wrote this book?
  2. Do you think there is a message, moral, or theme in this selection? What is it?
  3. What is the embedded theme?
  4. What was the most important part of the selection that you read today? Why?



  1. Does any part of this selection remind you of something that has happened to you? If so, describe the connection.
  2. Does this story remind you of a story you have read before? What? How?
  3. Does this story remind you of something that has happened in your school, community or world? If so, describe the connection?
  4. Would you recommend this book to someone else? Who? Why or why not?
  5. Do you feel this will be a popular book in the future? Why or why not?


  1. Who is the illustrator? How do you know? What do you notice about his/her artistic methods and style?
  2. Do you like the illustrations? Why? Why not?
  3. If the illustrations were not there, would there need to be more words? Why?
  4. What did the illustrations add to the text?


Nonfiction Questions

  1. What did you find most interesting? Why? Show me!
  2. Was the information easy for you to understand? Why?
  3. Did the book give you enough information? What else do you need or want to know about the topic? Where would you look for that information?
  4. Would the book be different if it had been written 10 years ago? Why or why not?
  5. Give examples of specific clue words the author uses to let you know that he/she is stating an opinion or a fact.
  6. Would you like to read more books about this topic? Why or why not?
  7. What pictures, tables, charts, graphs, diagrams, maps, or illustrations did you find most interesting? Were they helpful? Why or why not?
  8. What kind of research do you think the author had to do to write the book?
  9. What questions would you ask the author?
  10. What is the purpose of this text feature (Subheading, label, all capital letters, photo, diagram, etc.)?
  11. Could the events you read about happen in real life? Why or why not?


  1. What kind of poem is this? (Concrete, narrative, free verse, etc.)
  2. Does this poem contain stanzas? How many?
  3. How many lines of verse are in each stanza?
  4. Is there a rhyme scheme? What is it?
  5. Does this poem contain a refrain?
  6. Is figurative language used? Where?
  7. Why did the speaker write this poem?
  8. Is there a message in this poem? What is it?


  1. Who are the characters in this drama? How do you know?
  2. Point out the names of the characters? Which would you like to play?
  3. Read a stage direction. How did you know it was a stage direction?
  4. How many acts/scenes are in this drama? Describe the need for different scenes.